Official warned for mine blast
Shi Jichun, vice-governor of Central China's Henan Province, was given a disciplinary warning for his part in a fatal colliery blast that killed 148 coal miners last year.
This punishment was announced yesterday at an executive meeting of the State Council -- or the cabinet -- which was presided by Premier Wen Jiabao.
Meanwhile, five other people have been transferred to judicial departments for investigation and another 18 were given Party and government disciplinary penalties according to their responsibilities for the incident.
The accident took place in the State-owned Daping Coal Mine in Henan Province on October 20, reports said. A total of 446 miners were at work in the mine when the accident occurred, and 298 miners escaped.Some 21 were injured.
After the blast, the State Council immediately dispatched investigators to the site and invited work safety experts to help probe the causes of the accident.
Investigations indicated it was a fatal explosion caused by coal and gas outbursts.
The conference also urged the coal mine sector to improve work safety measures, including implements a responsibility system for work safety, enlarging investment on safety equipment, upgrading production levels through technological innovations, as well as perfecting supervision mechanisms.
Among the colliery-related accidents, gas explosions are the most deadly killers in China's coal mines, with quite a large number of them having serious gas hazards or high burst risks, experts said.
Meanwhile, the overall work safety situation at collieries has lagged far behind the quick development of the coal industry in recent years, especially in State-owned coal mines, said Wang Xianzheng, head of the State Ministry of Work Safety, at an annual working conference which concluded yesterday.
State-owned coal mines that produce more than 60 per cent of the output would need at least 5 billion yuan (US$602.4 million) of investment to improve their safety facilities, he said.
Meanwhile, concrete measures will be adopted in the next three years by the mines and the nation to make up the needed funds on work safety equipment, said Huang Yi, spokesman of the administration, during a press conference early this week.
Last year, the coal mine industry historically witnessed the output of 1.9 billion tons. At the same time, it also suffered the fatalities of more 136,000 and another 700,000 injuries, according to Wang's agency.